Learn EXACTLY How Many Reps to Build Muscle
I remember the very first time I ever picked up a bodybuilding magazine with the intention of learning the best way to train and how many reps to build muscle. I found the work out of the biggest guy in the magazine. This article talked about his reasons for rep ranges and his favorite work out routine and why he liked it.
One thing that I took to heart is when the pro said, “When I am trying to get big, I lift heavy for low reps, but when it’s time to shred up for a show I lift light weights for high repetitions. That is what actually burns away the fat.” I figured this had to be true since he was so dang lean and huge. Right???
BUT, as I became more entrenched into the bodybuilding and dieting world, I’d hear this same touch of “wisdom” over and over again. In my never ending search for knowledge it didn’t take me long to find that this common mantra of, low repetitions for mass and high repetitions for cuts, was simply plain erroneous. The truth about how many reps to build muscle is something that is mostly unknown within the bodybuilding community.
I work with lifters of all different experience levels. It does not matter the amount of time training they have, I am constantly shocked to discover that this is a fairly straightforward issue that’s mostly misunderstood.
I would like to clear the air. The issue of how many reps to build muscle is something which every bodybuilder should understand, although it may not be groundbreaking new advice to the bodybuilding world.
Low Repetitions Lifting
Low reps are generally categorized as reps in the 1-5 range. It’s often said that low repetitions will stimulate quick twitch muscle fibers while high repetitions stimulate the slow twitch muscle fibers. This is still another false fact about repetition ranges and how many reps to build muscle. The truth is that ALL muscle fibers will be stimulated by low repetitions from slow to intermediate to quick and everything in between.
The slow twitch fibers will be recruited first, when a load is put on a muscle. If the slow twitch fibers cannot create enough force to lift the weight then the intermediate fibers will be called by the body into action.
If the slow and intermediate fibers cannot manage the weight or tire out then the fast twitch fibers will finally be recruited. When fibers are recruited then are never recruited half way or partly.
Low repetitions are also effective for stimulating myofibrillar hypertrophy. Myofibrillar hypertrophy is a rise in size and the amount of the actin and myosin filaments within muscle tissue. This type of hypertrophy is accompanied by strength gains since it involves a rise in the contractile tissue. This is important because progressive overload is among the main necessities for ongoing long term increase. So you can see that quite hefty weight for low reps is vitally significant for maximum development.
This repetition range is typically identified as the 6-12 rep range. Moderate repetition ranges have consistently been shown in study after study to lead to the greatest gains in growth. The reason this rep range is so effective for building muscle is because it does a little bit of everything.
This implies that it supplies a lot of the advantages of low rep training by allowing for relatively heavy loads to be used while raising time under tension combined with the advantages of high repetition training. The increased time under tension will stimulate sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is a growth of the sarcoplasm and other non-contractile proteins within muscle cells and is chiefly induced by lifting light loads for higher repetitions. This kind of development, although not typically accompanied by any strength gains, is the main reason bodybuilders tend to be more muscular than power and strength athletes.
So high repetitions with light weight is best at kicking up sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, and while low reps with heavy weight is finest at stimulating myofibrillar hypertrophy, mid-range repetitions appear to strike a balance between inducing substantial quantities of both myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. The mid-range repetition range’s proven track record makes it so that it cannot be blown off in your training routine.
High Repetitions Training
High repetitions are generally considered to be any set that contains 15 repetitions or more. There are many that assert, since low reps fire up all the muscle fibers and cause sarcoplasmic protein synthesis, that there’s actually no need to do high repetition sets. At first this sounds like sensible reasoning, but it leaves out one extremely important variable.
Glycogen is essentially stored carbohydrate within muscle tissue. I know you are thinking, “why would I need my muscles packed with water?” Besides the fact that this added water increases the size of your muscles, it will likewise raise protein synthesis and that is critical in building muscle tissue faster.
Many folks usually do not understand that cellular hydration is an extremely strong anabolic cause. Protein synthesis is frequently related to a muscles cells state of hydration.
What does all this have to do with high rep training? High repetition training will drastically deplete glycogen stores. At first this may sound counterproductive by increasing muscular glycogen stores but the body will react to this depletion. In the long run this will enable cells to stretch and lead to greater overall muscle growth and release of anabolic hormones.
Along with all of the above advantages, greater occlusion is associated with higher repetition training. This prevents blood from leaving the place being trained, which can induce development through increases in growth factor creation and maybe satellite cell fusion.
So you now understand what function each rep range serves, but that really isn’t the whole narrative. To really be able to set this knowledge to great use you truly should know how to put this to action.
Even with knowing how many reps to build muscle, there are still those that say it is best to train just with low to moderate repetition ranges and focus entirely on progressive overload and high repetition training isn’t crucial. A fairly recent study recently demonstrated that this is just false.
15 young men were taken by this study and compared two protocols in the leg extension. This study found significantly higher protein synthesis speeds after the high repetition protocol. It follows the old saying, low repetitions are for size and high repetitions are just for fat loss is way, way off.
There is still one difficulty with high rep training that cannot be discounted. As stated earlier, high reps do very little for increasing strength gains. Progressive overload is vital for growth to continue and this should lead us to one decision. While a high repetition protocol will work nicely in the short term, the lack of continually increasing the resistance will cause a stall in your muscle gains and you don’t freakin’ want that.
There’s really a way around this stall though. By training with loads and low to mid-range reps you’ll be able to raise strength over time. This means that strength increases lead and in the 15 rep range will transfer to more strength in the other rep ranges.
So using a number of loads and reps will have a synergistic effect. Rep ranges aren’t separate of one another. Advancements in one region will result in advancements in other areas. This exchange is very important to understand when putting the entire picture together.
TLDR, Sooo… How Many Reps to Build Muscle?
Too long, didn’t read? Lol. Ok cool dude. There are actually just a few main takeaways from all of this information.
All rep ranges increase muscle increase but through different pathways. So all ranges should be used, regardless of if you happen to be bulking or cutting.
- Mid-range or Moderate rep ranges are recognized the best rep range to build muscle.
- Diet and cardio should be the primary tools you use to lose fat and get slim. Let the weight build muscle, let the fat be cut by your diet.
- There are no specific rep ranges for getting shredded better than other repetition ranges.
- There’s also no merit to the idea that high repetitions won’t help you gain lean mass.
Hopefully you will put this mid-range rep thing to the test, I have always personally done mostly 8-12 reps per set and once in a while I’d mix it up and go for high reps and burnout. I just don’t enjoy low rep lifting. It bores me to death but it is also beneficial, so I don’t have anything bad to say about it out side of the fact that it’s boring TO ME. So get out there and make some gains and eat the right amount of calories to build lean muscle.